One single experience, hmmm, that is tough. I like to think I have been molded and shaped by the accumulation of my life experiences. Recently it’s been realizations of past experiences that is giving me pause for thought. This post will have the word “I” in it a lot. Should my family read this, these thoughts are my reality and if I offend, from the bottom of my heart that is not my intent. I am going to limit myself to five growing up experiences to highlight how they have effected my grown up life.
I grew up a traditional middle class family. Dad worked hard, Mom stayed home to raise us three girls.
I always felt sightly unloved by my Mom. When I was young it didn’t occur to me to think much about it. I just knew that my older sister got a lot more attention than I did and my baby sister was (as is expected) slightly spoiled. That feeling of being unloved by the one that should love me unconditionally led me to stay in a marriage where I felt most undecidedly unloved for way too many years before I left.
I recently got outside of family confirmation of how I was treated by my Mother. I was always told I was chubby (when Mom was feeling generous) or fat (most of the time). I look at pictures of myself when I was younger and…I was a pretty typically sized child. As compared to my sister who was always 3-4 inches taller than me, yes, I looked heavier but I was by no means a fat child. I blame my mother for my warped sense of body image. Even when I was extremely thin (I have a picture where my collarbones are protruding from my body in a rather unattractive manner) I thought I was fat. I am lucky to never have developed an eating disorder. So now that I am an obese adult, because of my warped body image, I see but don’t really see all the excess weight I carry. Thankfully I like myself, every extra pound of me, I like.
I always felt ignored by my parents. I have a really hard time with this concept of being ignored. I oftentimes feel ignored when I feel enough attention is not being paid to me. How selfish of a statement is that? When I care about someone I spend a lot of time thinking about them and try to let them know in small ways. I can’t explain this very well, just because I find it easy to send a quick text, email, note whatever, I need to realize not everyone does. I am working on this, a lot; mainly because I am in a long distance relationship with a man with whom it seems grand gestures were the expected norm. He is finally realizing that, for me, the small gestures mean the most. A good morning text will start my day with a smile and makes me feel loved. Small, simple gesture – huge, huge payoff.
The next two experiences that colored my life and way of thinking are of selfishness and an unforgiving nature. Again, my mother is the center of realization. She was an unforgiving and selfish human. The example of these two character traits happened in the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of high school. Our flag corps team was going to UNM for band camp. We had to raise the funds as a team to go and the money was going to be split evenly between all the girls and the extra amount had to be paid by the families. My sister and I were both on the flag corps team so my parents would obviously be picking up the difference for two participants. My mother selfishly thought that the families of girls sending a single participant should give up some of the funding they were being given in order to save her money. She particularly thought one of the girls who joined right at the end of the school year should give up all her funding. She never forgave this girl for standing up for herself and her family in telling my mother they would not give up their portion of the funds raised as a team. Growing up, because I looked just like my mom I thought I was just like her. Our sameness ends at skin level. I forgive quickly and easily, oftentimes to my own detriment. I am generous to a fault. This trait leaves me not very good at handling money. I am trying to learn to reign in my forgiveness and generosity when not earned or deserved, but I am failing miserably at this. I love the fact that I can forgive easily. My generosity may leave me with money worries but my spirit is overflowing and sometimes that matters more than a fat bank account.
It’s sad that I carry this baggage. As much as I work on overcoming my childhood angst it rears its ugly head more often than I like. In a weird way I am glad for the bad example I was given, I am a better parent and a better human in living my life counter to the example I was given by my Mother.